Learning CPR to pay it forward

Mr Yeo Guan Kai, who had a cardiac arrest two years ago, participated in a three-hour mass CPR and AED course yesterday.
Mr Yeo Guan Kai, who had a cardiac arrest two years ago, participated in a three-hour mass CPR and AED course yesterday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Cardiac arrest survivor attends training so that he can help others just as he was helped

Two years ago, IT consultant Yeo Guan Kai was on a golf cart heading to his 10th hole when he blacked out.

He felt no pain and barely remembers what happened, but his heart had stopped - a cardiac arrest that later required him to undergo major surgery to insert three stents.

While only about 14 per cent of some 2,000 people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside hospitals in Singapore every year survive, Mr Yeo was fortunate to be among them, thanks to his quick-thinking friends and two doctors who were in the group before him.

His friends had called for an ambulance while the doctors performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him.

Yesterday, Mr Yeo, now 60, and his 27-year-old daughter decided to pay it forward by learning how to conduct CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

"The survival rate for cardiac arrest victims is very low, but it has improved over the years, no doubt due to programmes to get as many people to learn what to do in an emergency as possible," he said.

 

  • 14%

    Of some 2,000 people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside hospitals in Singapore every year survive.

    >13k

    Number of people the Singapore Heart Foundation has certified since 2009.

    1k

    Number of people who attended the mass training event yesterday.

"I have been a beneficiary of that knowledge, and I just want to be one of those who can help."

He was among 1,000 people at a mass training event organised by the Singapore Heart Foundation at the Singapore Expo yesterday.

Unlike a heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, a cardiac arrest happens when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating. Death can occur within minutes if victims do not receive treatment.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education Low Yen Ling, who launched the event, praised the use of technology, especially in cardiac arrest situations where a patient's chance of surviving drops by 7 to 10 per cent every minute after a collapse.

The Singapore Heart Foundation, which has certified more than 13,000 people since its courses started in 2009, yesterday launched a 15-minute refresher class to help past trainees remember the basics. It will be rolled out next year.

Class participants can wear virtual reality headsets and will be prompted, for example, to identify AEDs in the virtual world or locate the correct places to place their hands to carry out CPR.

Such a programme could improve a responder's competency and confidence in administering CPR, said foundation board member and co-chairman of its heart safe committee, Dr Chee Tek Siong.

"There are many factors that contribute to cardiac arrest survival, and receiving high quality CPR is certainly an important factor," Dr Chee said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 05, 2017, with the headline 'Learning CPR to pay it forward'. Print Edition | Subscribe